04 Mar 2010

What Are They Thinking?

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The leftist democrat base waves flowers

Political strategists on both sides are wondering aloud why it is that democrat members of Congress seem willing to climb aboard the health care flying bomb and head into a one-way legislative mission trying to sink Americans’ free choice in health care. Are they crazy? Do they believe the Emperor Obama’s promises that they will live forever in the Socialist equivalent of the Yakukuni Shrine? Quite a lot of them surely won’t be coming back to Washington next year. So why are they doing it?

Gary Andres explains the thinking of the democrat kamikaze.

One Democratic lobbyist advanced the “public education thesis.” “Sure, this might seem controversial now. But once it’s done, Members of Congress will have a chance to explain what they did, why, and how it’s going to make a difference.”

According to this theory, support will rise and opposition will ease, but only after the bill is enacted. The strategy, however, hinges on lawmakers’ ability to do an effective post-passage marketing job. It also assumes the opposition will not mount any kind of successful counter mobilization to protest its passage.

A variation on the public education thesis is the “Americans support success” conjecture. It goes something like this: Voters like accomplishments. Seeing the president in the Rose Garden, signing health care reform legislation into law will improve Mr. Obama’s approval numbers, which helps his party politically in the midterm election. Getting a bill done – almost irrespective of its contents – will help boost the White House’s and Democrats’ political fortunes, according to this view.

Next there is the “good as it gets” hypothesis. After two successful election cycles (2006 and 2008) Democrats amassed large majorities in the House and the Senate. But now they have reached their maximum majority size, based on this theory. With the prospects of their party strength only shrinking next year, now is the time to act on health care.

George Crawford, a former chief of staff to Speaker Pelosi and now a senior government affairs advisor at King and Spalding wrote an opinion piece recently in The Hill underscoring this point. Crawford argues that after “successful campaigns over the past several cycles, Democrats had come closer to their potential high-water mark.” He goes on to posit the party’s majority would get smaller irrespective of the House’s actions in the 111th Congress. So they might as well do it while Democrats have the votes.

Finally, there is the “energize the base” argument. This one has perhaps the most appeal because it includes some empirical support. Public polling on health care always masks huge variation in opinion between Republicans and Democrats.

For example, in a recent Rasmussen poll, President Obama’s health care plan lagged overall by a 41 percent (oppose) — 56 percent (favor) margin among likely voters. Yet looking at the crosstabs tells a very different story. Nearly 7 out of 10 (71 percent) self-identified Democrats favor the legislation, while only 12 percent of Republicans approve. This nearly 60 point spread between the parties on this issue has emerged in poll after poll in the last several years on this issue.

In other words, passing health care reform is a bit of a Holy Grail for Democrats. It is one of the most important debates and potential accomplishments for the party’s most ardent partisans – and has been for many years. Failure to enact this legislation would render a crippling blow to those most apt to volunteer, talk to their friends about politics, give money and vote in the upcoming midterm election. These base voters may not always guarantee the party’s victory, but without them defeat is assured.

Some combination of these four theories is the driving force behind the Democrats’ end game on health care. Of course, each of these conjectures includes a host of counter arguments that could prove disastrous for congressional Democrats in November. But for now, the president and his party’s legislative leaders agree – the only thing worse than passing health care reform is doing nothing at all.

It is very odd, distinctly in the “man bites dog” category of events falling into the opposite of normal reality, to see the democrats, the party of competent political tactics and mechanics, the party contemptuous of theory, the party dedicated above everything else to winning at any price and governing, deliberately marching into political destruction, openly defying a substantial majority of public opinion, in full knowledge of the consequences.

We can only conclude, I think, that ideology really has triumphed over there. They are willing to sacrifice their Congressional majority, and many of their political careers, for Socialism.

Obviously, they believe that, once they pass their health care bill, it will become another third-rail entitlement. Americans will become dependent and addicted, and no one will ever be able to alter the new order of reality and repeal it. Curiously, they seem to have overlooked their own Rube Goldberg design (intended to bring costs under a trillion dollars) of starting revenue collection immediately, but delaying most of the system’s arrival until 2013 and after. Republicans have plenty of time to recapture Congress and then repeal all this, and Republicans are promising to do exactly that.

In the end, the democrat’s kamikaze health care push is very likely to prove just as futile as the Japanese precedent in the final stages of WWII.

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